Over the last few years, advancement in technology has accelerated entrepreneurship and empowered emerging companies to vastly transform major “real world” sectors like transportation, urban infrastructure, education, energy and agriculture–and in the process is changing the way our cities and communities work.
Through these changes, we have worked with entrepreneurs and large companies to rethink their relationships with customers, competitors, their governments and their communities; and helped them build new strategies to succeed in this changing digital age.
We have learned with them and as a result our company has evolved along the way.
Since the launch of Think Big in 2010, we have invested in startup companies and run accelerator programs, managed and hosted global innovation challenges, designed and built collaborative workspaces for entrepreneurs and facilitated public-private partnerships for smart city initiatives.
Through this we have learned that entrepreneurship comes in many forms–serial startups, university tech-transfer programs, corporate innovators, etc. What we’ve found is that our role has always been to help bridge the gap between entrepreneurs, companies and cities to help them develop new and innovative solutions to their problems and challenges.
Most recently, we have seen the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology and believe it will disrupt and transform every facet of industry, commerce and our daily lives–providing countless opportunity for new products and services. Depending on what publication you read, the estimates of financial impact by 2020 are in the trillions of dollars.
Think Big’s next step, is to operationalize the knowledge, systems and processes that we have gained through our own evolution so that we can share it with the next generation of builders.
Introducing: Think Big Labs
Think Big Labs isn’t another accelerator program.
It is not about playing the odds and trying to spit out cohorts of startups in volumes.
Think Big Labs brings together creatives, technologists, entrepreneurs and large companies looking to create and catalyze new solutions using IoT technologies.
As a company of hands-on cofounders, Think Big brings our network of entrepreneurs, investors, and skilled professionals to work on a few projects a year. We assemble teams of hackers, product designers and marketers to work closely with industry experts, mentors and corporate partners to build a prototype that will solve a problem the partner has or capitalize on a new market opportunity.
After developing the prototype and establishing product market fit we work to scale the team, product and revenues to graduate the successful startup out of the lab.
Simply put, we short circuit the company life cycle from concept to commercialization.
Think Big Labs’ First Graduate: Homebase.ai
Intelligent Apartment Management
Homebase was an idea that grew from the need and desire for Sunflower Development Group, a Kansas City, MO real estate development company, to innovate and stay competitive. In the rapidly growing mid-to-high-end apartment market, multi-family developers are forced into an amenities arms race to attract tenants. Sunflower was looking for a way to start building for the future through the utilization of technology. That is where Think Big stepped in. We helped Sunflower develop a smarter, more innovative approach to designing and managing residential buildings with vibrant communities.
The result being Homebase, an Intelligent Apartment Management solution which we are commercializing and officially launching today.
After researching the market, the results were conclusive–current property management platforms aren’t built to handle the needs of today’s connected life. Something we intuitively gathered from our personal experiences and conversations with numerous renters and property managers.
The reality is that the existing legacy systems on the market don’t easily integrate with modern cloud applications and services, costing property staff time and property managers money switching between services. The few property management platforms that do have mobile apps, are rather “dumb apps” that offer little functionality or customization.
We saw this as a game-changing opportunity to build an IoT-enabled technology solution for property managers and developers, that would deliver renters a connected living experience that wasn’t possible – until now.
Homebase makes multi-family community management easier. It takes care of the simple and repetitive management tasks that enable property managers and tenants to message, manage payments, request maintenance and other concierge services.
But that’s just the beginning. Where Homebase is innovating is by integrating IoT-enabled smart home devices, giving tenants and property managers control over their living environment starting with locks, lights and thermostats. By connecting everything in one place, we can maximize property managers time, save on common operation costs, increase revenue, and enhance resident experiences.
Smart apartment systems are a smart investment that provide immediate benefits and continue to pay off for years down the road. The direct ROI of smart locks in a multifamily building is significant. Currently, smart locks run about $100 more than standard locks, but the cost of rekeying an apartment can range anywhere from $20 to $50 a door everytime their is resident turnover or a security breach. Smart locks add additional value by providing temporary key codes for property staff, giving renters and managers oversight to when maintenance workers enter and leave a unit.
In addition to locks, the energy and cost savings provided by smart thermostats and smarter lighting have the ability to positively impact the bottom of line of both the owner and renter.
Where we get excited is the future of the platform and the layers of cost savings and additional revenue streams that intelligent apartment data can provide. What we learn from the data collected in connected apartment environments will lead us to better services that are adaptive to residents’ needs.
Think Big Labs and Sunflower are excited to launch Homebase and upgrade the outdated rental property experience into something that renters will not only enjoy, but actively seek out.
Homebase is currently working with several apartment communities in the Kansas City area. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Homebase for your apartment community join our beta program here.